SUPPORT for independence among SNP voters has steadily declined since the referendum, but this has largely been offset by increasing support from the ranks of Labour, Lib Dem and some Conservative voters, according to a new study.

The report, from Dr Craig Dalzell, is based on analyses of many of the polls carried out since September 2014 and attempts to understand what voters want.

Dalzell will address today’s Scottish Independence Convention in Glasgow, on what is known about those in favour of and those against full autonomy for Scotland.

The laser physics and photonics expert, who also runs the Common Green, a respected politics and economics blog, said: “Despite regular polling before, during and after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum there appears to have been little analysis of which segments of Scotland’s society voted in a particular way.

“Less still has been conducted in the time since, with most of the headlines and attention given over to not much more than the overall Yes/No split. This paper investigates many of the polls published since September 2014 in an attempt to draw out trends which other reporting may have passed over.

“Through this, the independence movement may be better able to understand how the ‘materially changed’ circumstances which have triggered the upcoming independence campaign may have also affected voters’ intentions and preferences.

“By better understanding the current priorities and preferences of voters, it will be easier to build a new independence campaign which specifically targets those voters who need to be convinced or re-convinced of the merits of independence.”

Dalzell’s study suggests that if the 2014 referendum was “polarised” along party affiliations, then the shift in Scottish politics “appears to have become outright divisive” as the parties compete over how strongly they adhere to one line or another.

“The intense campaigning by the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour in particular in the run-up to the 2016 Scottish elections served to strip away much of the independence support within their own parties,” it said. “Since the EU referendum in June 2016, the trend of independence support amongst the voters of ‘Unionist’ parties has seen a rise which appears to coincide with a rise in independence support amongst EU Remain voters as a whole.”

Dalzell points out that data on this is reasonably weak as only a few polls consistently asked about the EU referendum alongside the independence question.

However, his report adds: “This rise in independence support has been coupled with a substantial drop in support for independence within SNP voters which has recently seen independence support within the party’s voting base drop below 75 per cent for the first time since 2014.”

The study indicates that as of this month, at 45 per cent Yes and 55 per cent No, the split is roughly the same as 2014. Scotland’s foremost pollster, Professor John Curtice (pictured above) differs only slightly from those numbers. He told The National: “I would’ve said intentions were probably around 47 per cent to 53 per cent, but basically we’re not a million miles away from where we were in 2014.”

Dalzell’s report also suggests age is still “a very strong correlator of voting intention” with voters aged between 16 and 41 being more likely to vote Yes, and those over 41 more likely to vote No.

However, Curtice urged caution, adding: “It may be that today’s 40-year-olds in 20 years’ time are just as concerned about the future of their pensions in an independent Scotland as perhaps today’s 60-year-olds are.”

The study indicates that since the Brexit vote, support for independence among women aged 55 and over has slumped from 37 per cent to 22 per cent. Women in all other age groups showed rising support.

It adds: “It appears that no single campaign strategy will be sufficient to win the next referendum, but this report highlights several areas in which votes may be won.

“It is clear that a multi-strategy, multi-party campaign is vital so that various segments can target their strengths without feeling too hindered by the diversity of the campaign and without trying to corral said campaign into their own particular vision.”